Expel Meredith, Senate ethics committee says

OTTAWA – The Senate ethics committee is recommending that disgraced Sen. Don Meredith be expelled for engaging in a sexual relationship with a teenage girl — the first such recommendation in the history of the upper chamber.

It’s now up to the full Senate to decide whether to accept or reject the recommendation.

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    “He has brought disrepute to himself and to the institution,” the committee’s recommendation reads.

    “Your committee is of the opinion that Sen. Meredith’s misconduct has demonstrated that he is unfit to serve as a senator. His presence in the chamber would in itself discredit the institution.

    “No lesser sanction than expulsion would repair the harm he has done to the Senate.”

    Meredith must be given five sitting days in which to respond to the committee report, should he wish, so a vote on his fate can’t occur before next Tuesday at the earliest.

    READ MORE: Expelling Don Meredith from the Senate will be no easy task

    The recommendation follows an explosive report from Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard earlier this year.

    She concluded that Meredith, a 52-year-old, married, Pentecostal minister, had begun a relationship with a 16-year-old girl that later became sexual; she also found that Meredith had abused his position as a senator to take advantage of the teen.

    Meredith has called the affair a “moral failing” but insists he did not have intercourse with the girl until after she turned 18 and has rejected fellow senators’ near-universal demand that he resign.

    WATCH: NDP demands Liberals condemn Sen. Don Meredith’s actions

    The Senate has never expelled a senator. But the general feeling in the Senate — from senators to a number of female staffers — has long been that Meredith is no longer welcome.

    Prior to Tuesday’s report, experts said Sec. 18 of the Constitution says both the Senate and the House of Commons have the same powers as the British House of Commons, which can expel a member and declare their seat vacant.

    READ MORE: Meredith broke code of conduct during alleged relationship with teenager, says ethics office

    Meredith has publicly apologized to his family, his fellow senators, the woman in question — known only as Ms. M — and to all Canadians, hoping the contrition would be enough for him to hold on to his Senate seat.

    “This is a moral failing on my part,” Meredith said in March in an interview with , with his lawyer in attendance.

    “As a human being, I made a grave error in judgment, in my interactions. For that I am deeply sorry.”

    The Senate ethics report found Meredith, 52, had sex with the woman once before she turned 18 and twice afterward, and also engaged her in explicit online chats.

    Ricard ruled that Meredith used his position as senator improperly, and that he failed to uphold the “highest standards of dignity inherent to the position of senator” in violating the Senate’s ethics code.

Fort McMurray children processing wildfire trauma: ‘I’m still not sleeping right’

The sounds of the Fort McMurray wildfire evacuation still reverberate in Emma Rose’s mind. In fact, out of all her memories of that day, it is the noises that stand out the most.

“My mom and I were next to an explosion,” the 17-year-old said. “We could hear it. It was only like 100 or 200 feet away across the highway.

“The radio, the beeping, hearing the cries on the videos, the popping of the fire. It’s terrifying.”

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Rose continues to see a counsellor once a week to help her cope with a trio of traumas. Last May – in a matter of two days – she fled the wildfire alongside 88,000 others, her home burned to the ground and her close friend Emily Ryan died in a collision.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray triplet killed fleeing fires was daughter of deputy fire chief 

“I never slept right for days, maybe even weeks. I’m still not sleeping right.”

Dr. Vincent Agyapong knows there are many others like Rose.

This fall, the University of Alberta associate clinical professor plans to survey 5,000 Fort McMurray students between Grades 7 and 12 to see how the wildfire evacuation and displacement has affected them. Agyapong will interview a cross-section of parents and kids as well to measure issues like depression, anxiety, substance use and resilience.

READ MORE: Mental health response to Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees to be assessed by province 

“The ultimate aim of the project is to be able to document the mental health of this population… People feel mental health issues go away,” Agyapong said, adding that isn’t the case.

Kevin Bergen, the principal of Fort McMurray Composite High School, has been surprised by how resilient students have been since returning to school. He says staff have needed to access mental health supports more than the students.

“I think it’s really because young people really don’t fully understand the scope of the types of trauma and chaos that happened that day. The adults did and it’s easier I think for the students — young children — to be able to move past that unless they see something that re-triggers the emotion of that day.”

READ MORE: ‘We need to be listening’: Fort McMurray schools prepare to welcome students back after wildfire 

The triggers have been unavoidable for some young people.

Virginia Poole, 16, was overcome by emotion recently after smelling burning wood.

“One night, my mom lit the wood stove and I went outside to look at the sunset,” Poole said. “I was like, ‘This is gorgeous. It’s amazing out!’ and I smelled the wood smoke and I was like, ‘Oh my God!’

“I didn’t think I would be affected by it and I was like, ‘Oh my God, Mom – I can’t.’ I couldn’t move.”

Poole thought she was okay, but in the lead up to May 3 this year, memories have been rising to the surface.

“This could happen again, I think that’s on everyone’s minds. We just don’t want it to happen again.”

READ MORE: ‘It takes a toll on a person’: Fort McMurray wildfire subject of case study on PTSD

Students have found a support network in each other.

Rose says friends just need to see a certain look on her face and they immediately ask if she’s okay.

While the support and counselling make her feel stronger, May 3 still looms loudly in her mind.

“It’s kind of hard not to be worried about it.”

Montreal police brotherhood head says Liberals asked him to run

The Surete du Quebec has opened a criminal investigation into allegations made by Yves Francoeur. Then on Tuesday, the head of the Montreal police brotherhood dropped another bombshell.

Francoeur first made serious allegations Thursday on live radio. He alleges two Liberal MNA’s —; one still in office —; should have been charged in a 2012 fraud case.

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READ MORE: 2 Quebec Liberal MNAs obstructed criminal investigation: Montreal police union president

The crown prosecutor’s office made the call even after attacking Francoeur’s credibility.

“It’s like going on a fishing expedition,” said Annick Murphy, the crown prosecutor’s office director, during a justice commission at the National Assembly on Monday.

Murphy said the union boss should meet with her to tell her what he knows.

“I don’t understand how it is possible to have that information for years, and just act now,” said Minister Pierre Moreau, Treasury Board President. “This is very suspicious, don’t you think?”

It wasn’t the only suspicious thing to come from Yves Francoeur. Tuesday, he made another surprising announcement —; using the Montreal police brotherhood 杭州桑拿会所 account, he claimed the Liberal Party asked him several months ago to run as one of their candidates. He said they offered him the Montreal riding already held my MNA Robert Poeti.

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Robert Poëti reflects on being shuffled out of cabinet, wanting to make a difference

“If some people think I’m going away, I’m leaving politics, they’re wrong,” an emotional Poeti said.

When asked if he felt betrayed by the Liberal Party, he said: “Not by the party, but by the person who thinks I’m leaving, or the person who thinks he has the right to offer my riding.”

Last week, Liberal MNA Guy Ouellette also said someone was trying to force him and other colleagues out of the party and offer their seats to other candidates.

“We don’t know if it’s true. We’ll see. We’ll try to know if anyone would have tried to do that,” said Sylvain Langis, Liberal head organizer. He added that no one in any official capacity to recruit candidates, spoke with Francoeur.

The premier wouldn’t answer reporter questions about any of Francoeur’s allegations, but in question period, he denied the Liberal caucus was in chaos… or that any of these recent events have shaken the party.

Judge rejects application to have Kelowna drug trial thrown out

The trial for two men charged in a major Kelowna drug bust will go ahead as planned.

Sheldon Durno Harris and Tyson Nicholas Still are each charged with five counts of possessing illegal drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

In October 2014, police raided Harris’ Crawford Road home, seizing heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and hashish that RCMP said had a street value of more than $600,000.

Officers also seized almost $19,000, about 500 rounds of ammunition, body armour and six vehicles.

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The trial began with an application by Harris to have his charges tossed out because of unreasonable delay.

The application is based on last summer’s Jordan decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that ruled trials in provincial superior courts should be heard within 30 months.

On Tuesday, the judge denied Harris’ request to have his case thrown out.

“The legal burden on an accused person is to establish on a balance of probabilities that there has been a breach of their Charter rights,” said Madam Justice Victoria Gray. “Mr. Harris has not demonstrated he was not tried in a reasonable period of time. As a result, I dismiss his application.”

But the defence lawyer has another legal argument up his sleeve.  He’s accusing a Mountie who was secretly surveilling Harris’ home of standing on the property when the officer made his observations of people allegedly packaging drugs.

That would be an illegal trespass, which would invalidate the search warrant, which would probably lead to the charges being stayed. The police officer denies he was trespassing.

Nova Scotia Tories, Liberals trade barbs over lack of women on slate in provincial election

Nova Scotia’s Tories and governing Liberals traded barbs Tuesday over their treatment of female candidates, leaving the third party NDP an opening to point out it alone has almost achieved gender balance in its slate.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia Election: Liberals field the most men, Tories the most white candidates

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“I’m pleased they’ve realized this is a major matter … and I’m glad it is something they’ve decided to attend to,” NDP Leader Gary Burrill said in an interview, after pointing out 24 of his party’s 51 candidates are women.

Accusations over the lack of women candidates erupted on Day 1 of the campaign, as Premier Stephen McNeil responded to questions about why only 12 of the party’s 51 candidates for the May 30 election are women.

He said his government has a track record for appointing women to positions of power, and he accused the other parties of choosing female candidates to contest ridings they’re unlikely to win.

“It’s one thing for parties to go out and identify people to run in ridings that they don’t think they have a great shot in” McNeil said during a campaign stop. “It’s quite another when you actually go out and get them elected and put them in the house of assembly.”

The premier said his party “has stood beside women to have them elected in meaningful ridings.”

READ MORE: All our Nova Scotia Election 2017 coverage

As well, McNeil’s government had six female cabinet ministers, the highest number of any government in the province’s history.

On Tuesday, Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie stood with 12 female candidates and demanded McNeil apologize for his “thoughtless and dismissive comments.”

“When he said some women that are running aren’t making a meaningful contribution, he needs to be accountable for that,” Baillie said in an interview.

Ginny Hurlock, the Tory candidate running against McNeil in the riding of Annapolis, said the premier’s comments were ill-advised.

“And to think of ridings as being meaningful and not meaningful is just nonsense,” she said.

Women make up a third of the Progressive Conservative candidates.

WATCH: Nova Scotia’s three main party leaders are defending the levels of minority representation and gender equity among their candidates standing for election. Legislature reporter Marieke Walsh breaks down the numbers.

However, Baillie promised that if elected his party would increase subsidies to political parties if they nominate female and minority candidates.

“I think it’s important that all party leaders acknowledge there is more work to do on gender balance and representation in the legislature from African Nova Scotians and aboriginal Nova Scotians … The per vote subsidy would increase by 50 per cent in those ridings,” he said.

Baillie also defended himself against criticism his party is far from fielding a slate that represents gender and ethnic groups in the province.

“It’s more than we’ve ever had, and they’re running in ridings across the province,” he said.

Burrill said his party has long had internal financial incentives to promote female candidates. The party also requires local districts to send a woman and a man to its governing executive, and it has internal rules requiring searches by electoral districts for female and minority candidates.

“This is not something left to chance,” he said. “It’s part of our deep self understanding.”

As for McNeil’s remarks, Burrill suggested McNeil withdraw them and offer an apology.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia had lowest rate of women running in federal election

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, McNeil said he may have lacked “eloquence” in his original explanation, but he did not apologize for his remarks.

“One of my proudest moments was when I had the opportunity to appoint the first woman of Mi’kmaq descent to the bench,” he said.

Cabinet ministers Joanne Bernard and Kelly Regan joined the premier for his news conference, with both stating that he’d been supportive of their political careers.

“We’ve had opportunities we might not have had under another leader … We’ve been supported every step of the way by this premier,” said Bernard.

Alberta study delves into why flightless dinosaur had feathers

The discovery of a new species of bird-like dinosaur is raising questions about the creature’s evolution and why it had feathers when it couldn’t actually fly.

Researchers studying a fossil found in China have determined that Jianianhualong tengi had large feathers associated with aerodynamics, but there’s no evidence that it could get off the ground.

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    Philip Currie, a University of Alberta paleobiologist, said the species is a missing link between birds and dinosaurs.

    “Every time you find a missing link between two animals, you create two new missing links,” Currie said. “We’re looking for the answer as to why there’s a combination of primitive and advanced features.”

    READ MORE: Scientists may have found the world’s largest dinosaur footprint

    The findings of the international research team were published Tuesday in the open-access journal Nature Communications.

    An artist’s rendering of the species suggests the metre-long dinosaur resembled a large pheasant with short wings.

    The scientists say Jianianhualong tengi lived during the Early Cretaceous period, roughly 125 million years ago, in an area of northeastern China famous for its feathered dinosaurs.

    READ MORE: New theory from Alberta researchers for why some dinosaurs stood on 2 feet

    Currie said the fossil demonstrates mosaic evolution in which parts of an animal’s skeleton changes without simultaneously affecting other parts.

    He said more research is needed to better understand why the dinosaur would have had feathers if they weren’t used for flight.

    “The only way to answer these questions is to find more animals to fill in the gaps.”

    Currie estimates that only one per cent of all the world’s dinosaurs have been identified to date.

Man convicted in Ontario court of sexually assaulting daughter for close to a decade

A man who argued in an Ontario court that he was simply being a “touchy feely” father when he regularly pinned his daughter under him – face down – and ground his genitals on her over roughly a decade has been convicted of sexual assault.

Court documents show the man, whose name cannot be released in order to protect the identity of his daughter, was arrested in 2014 after the then-teenage girl told a teacher she was being sexually abused.

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During trial, the young woman, who is now 18 years old, told the court the incidents began when she was six and usually took place every few weeks while her mother and siblings were away.

She testified both she and her father were fully clothed when it happened, and that she would squirm and tell him to get off her.

READ MORE: Ontario chief justice looking at increased sexual assault education for judges

Though the abuse briefly stopped after a complaint to child welfare authorities that was later withdrawn, the young woman testified it escalated to the point where her father once touched her genitals while she was sleeping.

She said she reported the abuse to her school around age 15 after an incident in which her father barged into a locked bathroom while she was showering.

The accused “sought to portray himself as an affectionate fun-loving, ‘touchy feely’ father who in retrospect may have not been sufficiently considerate of his teenage daughter’s sensitivities and privacy concerns, but was nonetheless well intentioned,” Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles Hackland wrote in his decision.

“In fact, however, the grinding incidents that he would portray as playfulness were escalating and becoming more problematic to the complainant as she matured and this resulted in the (Children’s Aid Society) involvement,” Hackland said.

“His view that there was no genuine problem to address at that point was bizarre and self-serving.”

According to court documents, the young woman testified she never told her mother about the abuse for fear of what would happen to their family, which did in fact fall apart after she came forward.

She told the court she confided in a friend during a game of truth or dare when in her early teens, and that friend told a parent, who alerted the Children’s Aid Society.

But the young woman said she was interviewed by a caseworker within earshot of her parents and retracted the allegations.

Her father testified that he never addressed the issue with her even after the caseworker’s visit.

The judge said he found it difficult to understand the accused’s “complete non-engagement” with his daughter. “This was the behaviour of someone unwilling to face a serious problem within his family – a problem he knew was his sexual abuse of his daughter,” he wrote.

The man was initially facing charges of sexual touching and voyeurism as well but the sexual touching counts were conditionally stayed since he has been convicted of the more serious charge of sexual assault.

He was cleared on the voyeurism charge in connection with the shower incident because the judge said the man had not behaved surreptitiously, which is a defining element of the offence.

Alberta group reveals menacing sounds of Islamophobia with audio recordings

After launching its Islamophobia reporting hotline more than a year ago, the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC) has found itself fielding both legitimate and disturbingly derogatory calls.

The hotline opened in late March 2016 and since that time, has received around 400 calls. At least 15 of them were Islamophobic taunts.

READ MORE: Alberta group launches toll-free Islamophobia hotline

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“I think there is a perception amongst some members of the population that Islamophobia is a myth, it’s concocted, it’s a created fantasy,” said Aurangzeb Qureshi, AMPAC’s vice-president of communications.

“We wanted to show that this is real.”

Four audio recordings were released to Global News. AMPAC says they are actual unedited messages left on its hotline.

“I’m not going to change my ways just ’cause you guys want us to, and this traitor government,” begins one recording. “You better think again. You started something that you have no idea what’s comin’.’”

Another message: “Yeah, take a message to Trudeau. Islam doesn’t belong on this continent.”

READ MORE: ‘Mosque’ spray-painted on Jasper outhouses ‘not very Canadian’: Parks Canada

Some calls are both Islamophobic and homophobic in nature.

One audio recording was so laden with profanity, if censored, it would be unclear, with very few words remaining.

“It’s obviously very cryptic and very scary,” Qureshi said.

“I mean, you’re hearing these people’s voices on the phone. And especially people who are talking about being locked and loaded — involving guns and shooting people — wanting you dead for no reason other than you follow a specific religion.”

READ MORE: Islamophobia hotline in Alberta sees ‘significant jump’ in calls 

On average, the hotline used to receive one call a day. Qureshi said that number rose to three or four calls a day after the U.S. election.

READ MORE: Hundreds converge on Alberta legislature grounds for Quebec mosque shooting vigil

In the meantime, AMPAC is scheduled to hold a fundraising event featuring author, lawyer and commentator Arsalan Iftikhar on May 6. Iftikhar has been widely acclaimed for his book Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedoms.

Global News Morning anchor Shaye Ganam will be emceeing the event.

Specialized bicycles give Winnipeg seniors a chance to explore

WINNIPEG —; The spring weather has many Winnipeggers getting their bikes out for the season, and one local group is hoping to give that feeling to people at any age.

Cycling Without Age (CWA) launched its Winnipeg chapter Tuesday. The group is dedicated to helping people with limited mobility get out cycling. Volunteers use a specialized trishaw, a mix between a tricycle and a rickshaw, to give rides seniors or those living with a disability a ride around the community.

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RELATED: Seniors cycling group looking to expand in Fredericton

“It’s a program where volunteers take elderly people out for bike rides in these specially made trikes,” Ole Kassow, founder of CWA said.

“Very often elderly people tend to get isolated and don’t get to go outside, and that has a dramatic and negative consequence on their life.”

Kassow first launched the program in 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark —; one of the most bike friendly cities in the world.

RELATED: Bike lanes around the world: Where mere paint won’t do it

Kassow said he wanted to help the elderly get back on their bicycles, but he had to find a solution to their limited mobility. The answer was a trishaw and he then started offering free bike rides to the local nursing home residents.

The program is quickly spreading around the world and it now has more than 8,000 volunteers.

Last year Kassow said he met two Winnipeggers in Copenhagen who wanted to bring the program to the city.  So Kassow came to the city to help launch CWA, and is hoping it will be a huge success.

“Cycling is a chance to get your senses stimulated and also being around other people. You form relationships and friendships,” he said.

A look into Centennial Academy, a unique school in Quebec

Centennial Academy was founded in 1969 by a group of teachers who believed they could do more for kids with learning challenges.

Five decades later, the school claims it has now become a leader in helping students succeed, even beyond academics.

Its graduation rate is 90 per cent in the standard five years of high school.

The provincial rate is 75 per cent.

“We’re applying the principles of Universal Design for Learning, and that’s really looking at: ‘OK, if it works for one child, can it work for two —; can it work for the whole class?’” the head of Centennial Academy Angela Burgos said.

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    Besides educating students, staff focus on teaching effective learning behaviours.

    For example, getting organized and prioritizing —; things that are usually difficult for these students who suffer from a range of learning challenges including ADHD or autism.

    “We have cubicles, and every week, we’ll go organize it,” said Maya, a student.

    “All our binders are different colours and it’s been the same way since Grade 10.”

    That predictability and order helps create life skills that ultimate make students become more independent.

    “It helps you succeed, and so far, it’s helped me succeed for the three years I’ve been here,” said 14-year-old Dario.

    The school uses different tools and strategies.

    One method that has really helped is through learning-behaviour coaches.

    Kids who are not in a good learning space, head over to what they call a level room, where they get help to focus their energy.

    “If we were a car, we’re not a Volvo. We’re not a Mercedes. We’re a Tesla,” Burgos said.

    Parents believe the school’s approach has made a world of difference in their lives.

    “They do stuff now on their own, which I never thought they were going to be capable of doing. I don’t have to sit and be that helicopter parent anymore,” said mother-of-two Sharyn Hoppenheim.

    The school will have to move buildings for the next school year.

    READ MORE: Centennial Academy finds temporary home in two public schools

    For some of these students, change can be difficult.

    But parents and the school are confident the move will be a smooth transition.

    The school is in fact, planning to expand.

    They are opening a French sector this year for Grades 7 and 8, and are hoping to gradually add more classes.